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Musician Bios: Friday, June 22 

Friday, June 22

Alfredo Rodriguez & Pedrito Martinez (Afro-Cuban jazz) Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez was headed into a career as a classical player until he heard Keith Jarrett's "The Köln Concert" and realized the possibilities of jazz improvisation. Rodriguez possesses the technique of Evgeny Kissin with an Afro-Cuban sensibility. Raised in Havana, Pedrito Martinez is one of the most in-demand percussionists in both jazz and pop, enhancing the music of artists ranging from Wynton Marsalis to Sting. (RN);

Duchess Trio (Vocal jazz) Not only do the three women in Duchess Trio blend like The Andrews Sisters, but they can do it at a million miles an hour, like a jazzy auctioneer. I swear there's more than three-part-harmony going on here. (FD)

Hip Spanic AllStars (Latin funk) This band of San Franciscans is funky, funky, funky. The band tempers straight-forward funk with Latin sub-rhythms and overtones. Your heart will flip as your back bone slips. Considering dancing at this show? You'd better warm up first. (FD)

Jam Sessions with Karl Stabnau (Jazz jam) It's situations like this that truly keep the jazz spirit of the Jazz Festival alive. The cat behind this jam is Karl Stabnau — named "Outstanding Jazz Soloist" by DownBeat magazine. Who will show up to jam? (FD)

Joey Alexander Trio (Straight-ahead jazz) At two previous XRIJFs, piano prodigy Joey Alexander has proven his keyboard prowess is no fluke. Alexander left festival audiences stunned, taking on the complexities of Thelonious Monk tunes and John Coltrane's intricate "Giant Steps" with the ease of a veteran player. Now all of 14 years old, Alexander, has been declared a genius by Wynton Marsalis. (RN)

Lakecia Benjamin (Hard bop, hip-hop) This woman's music is a streamlined locomotive hugging tight to the rails. Between angular blasts of her horn comes the rap with all its positive fury and funky groove. (FD)

Marius Neset (Straight-ahead jazz) Norwegian saxophonist extraordinaire Marius Neset started out on drums at the age of 5. But a few years later, when he took up the sax, he found his true calling. While a teenager he moved to Copenhagen to study and it wasn't long before he was recruited into the band of his teacher, British multi-instrumentalist Django Bates. Since then he has traveled the world as a leading tenor player with bands and orchestras. (RN)

Matt Savage (Straight-ahead jazz) In the early-2000's, Matt Savage, not yet 10 years old, emerged on the national scene as a savant jazz piano player. Since then he has proven himself to be a simply superb pianist, playing and recording in a variety of ensembles and working with jazz artists like Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, and Arturo O'Farrill, and pop stars like Chaka Khan and Jackson Browne. (RN)

Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers (Funk, jazz) Mindi Abair is a wild and raunchy saxophone player in the tradition of Maceo Parker. She's also a bluesy singer and commanding presence on stage. Her group, The Boneshakers, is a funk-rock-jazz ensemble capable of tackling everything from James Brown dance tunes to Jimi Hendrix classics. (RN)

Phony Ppl (Hip-hop) Straight out of Brooklyn, Phony Ppl plays trippy hip-hop with a soulful slice. There's still an edge, but the band is too cool to go careening over it. Soulful, stylish, and sly. (FD)

Ron Artis II & The Truth (Rock) Hawaiian guitarist Ron Artis II will knock you out with the big aloha from his guitar. The music jams within a tight and accelerated groove, as his guitar awaits to unleash its fury. (FD)

Sara Gazarek Quartet (Vocal jazz) When Sara Gazarek sings a tune like "I'm Old Fashioned" you get the impression she's not kidding. She's more than capable of wrapping her voice around an old standard like a classic jazz diva. Gazarek got a head start by winning the DownBeat Student Music Award for Outstanding Collegiate Jazz Vocalist in 2003. Since then she has toured extensively and was voted no. 3 in the Best New Artist category in the JazzTimes Readers' Poll. (RN)

Scott Sharrard (Rock) Last year, Jazz Fest had an added bump up to big rock territory with Gregg Allman. Allman and his band rocked due to their band director, Scott Sharrard, who blazed a hole in the ceiling with his magnificent guitar work. Let's see how he does with his own outfit. Sharrard shreds. (FD)

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Terell Stafford Quintet (Straight-ahead jazz) No less a jazz icon than McCoy Tyner has called trumpeter Terell Stafford "one of the great players of our time." Audiences at two previous XRIJFs have learned that for themselves. Stafford, who has enhanced Tyner's band and also lent his talent to Benny Golson, Kenny Barron, Jimmy Heath, and many others, is a formidable leader in his own right. (RN)

Vintage Trouble (Garage rock) In the spirit of bands like The Mooney Suzuki and The Hives comes LA's Vintage Trouble with its in-your-face, excitable, exciting driving beat. With its members spending a lot of time air bound, the kids are gonna love this one with its hip shake rhythm and grind. (FD)

Will Vinson Trio (Straight-ahead jazz) London-born saxophonist Will Vinson has been a force on the New York City jazz scene since 1999, enhancing the groups of artists like Kurt Rosenwinkel and Chris Potter and pop singers like Rufus Wainwright and Sufjan Stevens. Over the years Vinson has recorded six albums as a leader, showcasing his formidable skills as a player and composer. (RN)

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